Thursday, October 18, 2012

Slum walking

Hello hello!
The other day I took a trip to go pick up Myrna, who Pratyasha assisted by getting rid of her worms and helping her gain weight. My roommate Kristin wanted to get her involved with Operation Smile's Guwahati nutrition program, which helps malnourished patients gain weight so that they are eligible for surgery. I walked from the Op Smile center to Lahktokia, the slum area where Myrna lives. To get to Lahktokia, I walked on the train tracks for around 5-7 minutes—and at that point my eyes were opened wide.
I am only familiar with the slum that I work in every weekend and to be honest, I had no idea that the slums went down the train tracks for hundreds if not thousands of yards. There were so many homeless settlements there on the tracks that I didn't even see them all. I was so astonished by the magnitude of situation that I completely forgot to shoot some photographs.

Where we serve food every weekend--imagine this for yards and yards.
As I was going to sleep the other night, it finally hit me (quite late) that this is their home, their neighborhood, and everything they know. The tarp is their roof, and the other tarp is their neighbor's roof. Their bed is cardboard and their kitchen is an open fire and a single metal bowl.
When I finally did reach the Lahktokia slum I am familiar with, some of the kids saw me and yelled, “HANNAHHHHHHHH,” and right then, I felt comfortable again. I asked to for Myrna, and was led to her home. Off we went in an auto rickshaw to the hospital to let the nurses and doctors give Myrna and her mom advice on how to help her gain weight. Myrna’s mom says her daughter is seven, but she looks four. She weighs 13 kg (which is 28 lbs). Myrna was so patient. She is such a curious girl and loves to smile and play around.  Also, it is evident how much Myrna’s mom loves her daughter. She is always holding her tightly or giving her small hugs. She is always willing to cuddle with her.
Myrna and her mother.
Myrna making silly faces. 
Silly Hannah and Myrna...
Silly Myrna. 

Some other notes:
1. Durga Puja is coming up! The holiday season will soon begin! Happy early Puja! Guwahati is crazy with people doing last minute gift shopping, and “tourists” from nearby small towns have flocked here. People come from all over to enjoy the festivities and not many of these people have ever seen a foreigner. The other day I got stopped by a man who said, “I have never seen a foreigner. I am living the dream.” If this is his dream, then he needs a greater one because foreigners are not all they're cracked up to be.

2. I am getting to go to Mumbai! On November 15th I will make my way to the other side of India. I am going for the Op Smile India student conference to make connections with other Indian students who are interested in Op Smile. Also,I will have a couple of days to tour around the incredibly large city, which is known to be more western and different from the rest of India. Straight from Mumbai, I am flying to Bhubaneswar, Orissa for an Op Smile mission to help with medical records. This will be similar to the past mission in Silchar and I am excited to get to be part of another mission team. 

My schedule from November 15-November 29

3. I burned my lower leg on a motorcycle, but it's getting so much better. However, I will have a scar for my year in Guwahati.  

4. I'm getting really good at cooking tomato sauce. The tomatoes are really small here, so it takes like 20 to make a sauce. Here's a picture of my last one. My roommates call Sunday nights "pasta, wine and movie night." Of course, the wine does not apply to me. 

The tomato sauce and pasta cooking!
Sending smiles from India,

Such a cute baby I met at the Op Smile center. 

Guwahati at night time.

1 comment:

  1. The map was a great addition and the pictures of mumbai. well, all of the pictures are always great.
    take care of that burn! :-)

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